Make The Case To Go Fully Remote (Here’s How)

By Ashley Stahl, Contributor
Here’s how to make the case to go fully remote. getty

When it comes to working remotely, the definition of “temporary” seems to have changed. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted lockdowns in March of 2020, working from home seemed like a brief pause before many of us returned to punishing commutes and open-floor plan offices. Here we are 18 months later and many companies that planned to reopen in September are delaying once again. Of course, how many of us guessed we’d still be masking and social distancing –– especially with more than half the country fully vaccinated? 

The truth is, 18 months feels kind of permanent. There are working professionals under 25 who have never seen the office. I’m sure thousands of older workers landed their jobs through videoconference interviews and also have never seen their workplace either. The Wall Street Journal recently did an amusing article about how shocked some who went to their office for the first time were by their co-worker's height.

Most of us settled into work-from-home routines a long time ago. We’ve discovered better work-life balance thanks to increased flexibility and the extra hours we save by not commuting. Poll after poll shows satisfaction with remote work increasing while interest in returning to an office declines. So if you’re happy with your current situation, here’s how to make the case to go fully remote. 

Make a List

In August of 2021 over 13% of employees worked from home. That’s a drop from the over one-third who worked remotely in March of 2020 and the almost one in four that did so earlier this year. However, it’s important to remember that the number is for all employees. A huge number of workers can’t work from home. Plus, that figure doesn’t include freelancers or independent contractors. What these numbers mean is you aren’t alone. If you’ve been dreading a “return to the office” email from your boss, now is the time to take action. Don’t wait until the reopening schedule hits your inbox. 

Start by listing the advantages and disadvantages to working from home. Being honest about the negatives will help you recognize your supervisor’s concerns while developing a strategy to overcome them. Gather as much information as you can. One big disadvantage to working from home is you’re often neither seen nor heard. Supervisors can often tell with a glance if you’re struggling with a project or firing on all cylinders. So prepare a presentation highlighting your achievements and productivity. You also want to emphasize your home office set up, detailing how you have already dedicated a space solely for work. You also want to address security issues. Demonstrate how the company’s data is just as safe in your home as it would be in the office. You’ll want to discuss changes you made like buying a better router or implementing two-factor authentication.

Research Tech/ Research Costs

If your company was fairly inexperienced with remote work, they may have fumbled the transition. There could be tech lapses or workplace software that could really help. While you don’t want to enter a meeting suggesting more ways for your company to spend money, if you can develop easy solutions to challenges, it could help you make your case. 

One successful strategy if you want to make the case to go fully remote is to emphasize how much money your company could save. If you work for a publicly traded company, do a deep dive into what they spend on leases, equipment, utilities, and all the other expenses associated with maintaining an office. Although this can be more challenging with a private company, you can estimate costs for your area. From this figure, you can show savings if half the office goes remote, for example. 

On average, Global Workplace Analytics suggests that employers save around $11,000 a year for every person who works remotely half of the time.Telework saved AT&T some $30 million a year, while outdoor retailer REI made money when it sold its never-used headquarters to Facebook for $360 million because its office staff was fully remote.

Schedule a Meeting

Don’t bring up your desire for permanent remote status at the tail end of a ZOOM meeting. Instead, schedule an official time when you and your supervisor can discuss the issue. Your email should be clear about the purpose of the meeting with a subject line that mentions remote work. There are numerous templates online to draw from.

If you have health concerns or have seen a provable increase in productivity, you can touch on that in the email. For many, office work is more stressful than remote work. Besides being concerned about COVID, if you’ve become accustomed to fresh air and elbow room, you may not be surprised by studies suggesting office workers get sick more often than those who don’t labor in offices without working windows .

The night before your meeting, go over your notes and make sure you are set up for the videoconference. While we’ve come to accept tech failures as a part of life, it’s hard to make the case for working remotely when your audio goes out! During the meeting, be upbeat and positive. Emphasize how much you want to do a good job and help the company. Promise connectivity –– including regular videoconferences and checking in at set times. Listen to their concerns, making sure to be an active listener who rephrases the points rather than waiting to argue them. 

Remember: your company culture plays a big role in whether or not your request will be accepted. Some companies like Google have long opposed remote work. If you believe not being able to work from home will damage your quality of life, there are plenty of businesses looking to hire someone just like you.

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